Silicosis is a respiratory disease. It occurs from long-term inhalation of respirable crystalline silica dust.
There are three types of silicosis:
Silica is a crystalline mineral found in the earth’s crust. Materials like sand, stone, concrete, and mortar contain crystalline silica. Silica is also used to make products such as glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks, and artificial stone. The dust forms when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar.
Silica dust particles enter the body through the airways and embed into the lung’s air sacs. The immune system is unable to clear out the dust, which causes lung inflammation. This leads to the formation of lung nodules and scarring called pulmonary fibrosis. The negative health effects associated with silicosis usually take years to develop.
Silica gets released from materials getting cut, sandblasted, chipped, drilled, or grinded. Without using protective equipment or safety measures, silica dust is inhaled and reaches the lungs.
Silica may be produced from the following, but not limited to:
As the disease advances, the following occurs:
Individuals who work in the following industries, but not limited to:
In recent years, there has been a rising demand for artificial, or engineered, stone countertops in kitchen and bathrooms. The first case of silicosis linked to an engineered stone fabrication worker was identified in Texas in 2014. Since then, other states have found more cases of silicosis in engineered stone fabrication workers through monitoring rates and cases.
The reporting requirements remain the same for workers diagnosed with silicosis stemming from engineered stone.
After a physical examination, a physician may order the following for diagnosis, but not limited to: